Headings should not be empty

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Rule Description

When at least one heading element (marked by <h1> through <h6>) is present, it is a best practice to ensure it contains content.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Ensures that headings contain content and that this content is accessible by a screen reader.

Why this is Important

Screen readers alert users to the presence of a heading tag. If the heading is empty or the text cannot be accessed, this could either confuse users or even prevent them from accessing information on the page's structure.

How to Fix the Problem

It is a best practice to ensure all heading elements (those marked with <h1>-<h6> elements) contain content. Furthermore, be sure that this content can be accessed by a screen reader; this means that the heading text must NOT be hidden (e.g. with display: none or aria-hidden="true").

Compliance Data & User Impact

User Impact: Serious
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
  • Mobility/Dexterity
Issue Type:
  • Deque Best Practice
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • Not applicable
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • Not applicable

Related Deque University Course Pages

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML5
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: empty-heading